Two issues defined the technology economy in 2014:
- Policymakers’ inability to keep up with technology-driven innovation; and
- The embarrassing lack of diversity among employees in the technology sector. 2014 made it clear that for Latinos, digital equity — closing the tech employment gap, and securing a place in the digital economy — are the top priorities.
We end the year with the Internet economy at another zenith, worrying some that another tech bubble burst is ahead. Companies like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft are leading an economic, social, and cultural revolution in the way that we share — and monetize — otherwise fallow assets, coming to trust our fellow man with access to our homes, vehicles, and very personal spaces along the way.
All the while, lawmakers are challenged to keep up, rather ineptly, with the pace of innovation.
The year that just zipped by was marked by a number of online events and events that happened in real life that we experienced online. This was the year that the Internet of things became a thing. And it was the year that Apple proved its virulence with the iphone 6 and 6 Plus. Cyber attack became the norm this year. No one flinches at another few million credit card numbers hacked, celebrity photos released, or a country hacking an entertainment company in response to an embarrassing movie. America is also more social; but the adults have taken over Facebook, while young people retreat to Kik, Instagram and Snapchat. Everyone is finally on Twitter.
The innovation economy is revving into 2015, creating opportunity, connections and convenience — but in the midst of the ongoing economic revolution, it was the revelation of abysmal diversity employment data across Silicon Valley’s top companies, including Apple, Google, Linkedin, Twitter and others that confirmed that some of America’s best-capitalized, fastest-growing companies have been doing a terrible job of cultivating workforces that reflect the diversity of their users.
The situation is so bad, that none of the top companies report more than 3% Latino participation in their workforce. Worse, while Silicon Valley leaders have repeatedly complained that there aren’t enough STEM-qualified Hispanics to hire, the numbers actually show that even those with the degrees, don’t get hired.
These facts make it no surprise that Latino-serving organizations and national civil rights leaders, remain unsympathetic to an Internet policy agenda driven by silicon valley elites, that ignores the issues of inclusion and equity in advancement of a business-driven agenda to treat the Internet as a utility under a 1934 law. That agenda is good for some of Silicon Valley’s most elite companies, but is bad for jobs, and could cost Internet consumersmore money in taxes and fees on their Internet connections.
Data is power. We will look back at 2014 as the bellwether year for Latinos and the tech economy. It will be the year the challenge was defined. It will be the year the community started the work of cracking the code toward equity.
Follow Jason Llorenz on twitter @llorenzesq